Island of Voices
Weightless on the rim of the land
a weathered disc in a turquoise box
registering marks of volume, scale
Neolithic skull an upturned casserole
sea again unfolding over us
and the black Madonna
spinning on the Lazy Susan.
I went to be alone
in the heat and the light
and with cicatrix crowding at my knees
two stone eyes monitor
the ascent a skein
of barren mountain
screams of hidden goats
triggered like car alarms
beyond the edge
where scree meets sky
a city shimmering
with invisible lusts.
In this dream the Pope is facing West
and chanting the Credo in an infinite loop.
I am walking in a line towards the gaudy light;
a crown of buzzing bulbs.
Gaudí made the most of electric lighting
in his renewal of the Cathedral in Palma.
To be true to life, it must be retold
in the wrong order
and faster. Prayer is nothing
if not performance.
At every corner a quack in a crow mask
will offer to heal you.
A door opens. There is light
behind it glowing
from every drawer every floorboard
every switch box shelf chair bowl of fruit
and when inside it’s like swimming
your knees ache with the joy of it
and your chalky skin flakes to the touch
floats to the floor
until you are pure light
you the room the door and the doorframe
and you and you are bleeding
bleeding from the throat
and the floor is now a sea
towards the edge of light.
Literally buzzing mate like
faulty wiring static in the nave
dropped coins jangle
in the fruit machine
it might have been
her face swimming or burning
I swear it moved like
wax poured in the darkening slow-mo
dust explosions through which
light in one single beam or joist
or column penetrates as if but no
as if won’t do won’t do as if
a voice might emerge from all this babble.
Tom Chivers is a writer and literary arts producer. His books include How To Build A City, The Terrors and, as editor, Generation Txt, City State: New London Poetry and Stress Fractures: Essays on Poetry. Tom is currently working with Cape Farewell on ADRIFT, a project exploring the landscapes of the city. Learn more at thisisyogic.wordpress.com
Tom's previous article for The Island Review, on the 'lost islands' of Sussex, can be found here.